The following questions are based on enquires I have received from prospective and new clients over the years.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the last stage of the editing process for a document and should only be carried out once all other revisions by the author / contributors and amendments by the copy-editor have taken place. Proofreading therefore has an important role in publishing and business as it is the last chance to correct any errors before the book or document is published.
A proofreader will read through an electronic or paper proof to highlight and correct errors in the text. These errors are mainly:
• spacing, alignment, and layout
• typographical, i.e. printer’s errors
• general style.
Who needs proofreading skills?
The answer to this question is everyone. Proofreading is not just for books, but can be applied to a wide variety of media and is a skill that can benefit anyone who writes anything, either for work or personal reasons, such as:
• academic papers and journal articles
• annual accounts and reports
• bids, proposals, and tenders
• books and handbooks
• business documents
• case studies
• corporate literature
• creative writing
• CVs / resumés and covering letters
• distance learning modules
• educational materials
• financial reports
• investment reports and prospectuses
• journals – academic and vocations
• marketing literature, including brochures and flyers
• mission statements
• PowerPoint presentations
• press releases
• social media posts and profiles
• study and learning assignments
• textbooks and teacher / lecturer resource manuals
• travel guides
• website material.
Why is proofreading important?
First impressions count, so it is vital that documents and publications a company or organisation produces to promote a product or service or provide information about itself looks professional and is error free. You do not get a second chance to make a good first impression! If a prospective client finds numerous errors in marketing media or application documentation they will start to wonder about the quality of service or product that is being offered.
How are the proofreading corrections marked up for my attention?
All my proofreading is now carried out on screen.
• Before starting a manual proofread using Microsoft Word, I will run the document through another computer program, Intelligent Editing PerfectIt, that will search for inconsistencies of spelling, hyphenation, punctuation, capitalization, and presentation. If you have your own company house style that you want me to follow, this can be incorporated into PerfectIt.
After this I will then carry out a line-by-line manual proofread of the document in Word using the ‘Track Changes’ tool under the Review tab that allows additions, deletions, corrections, and queries (comments) to be recorded. You will be able to see all amendments I have made and accept or reject them individually.
• PDFs using the ‘editing’ tools of Insert, Delete, Replace, and Comment in Adobe Acrobat.
I need help with writing my book, can you assist?
No, that is not my area of expertise. You may need a copy-editor or even a development editor. You will be able to obtain some advice from the website of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders at https://www.sfep.org.uk.
If you need help in compiling an index you should be able to find a suitable candidate through the Society of Indexers at https://www.indexers.org.uk.
Any more questions?
Please contact me through my website at https://www.yorkeditorial.com.
Stephen York is a freelance proofreader with over 25 years' experience in book and journal publishing offering proofreading services to publishers, businesses, organizations, educational institutions, academics, students, and authors. He regularly proofreads in digital format a wide variety of media in an extensive range of specialist subject areas, including business, finance, economics, education, marketing, and real estate.